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 Artemis

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PostSubject: Artemis   Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:09 pm



Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Some scholars believe that the name, and indeed the goddess herself, was originally pre-Greek.[1] Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron < Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals"[2]. In the classical period of Greek mythology, Artemis (Greek: (nominative) Ἄρτεμις, (genitive) Ἀρτέμιδος) was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows.[3] The deer and the cypress were sacred to her. In later Hellenistic times, she even assumed the ancient role of Eileithyia in aiding childbirth.

Artemis later became identified with Selene,[4] a Titaness who was a Greek moon goddess, sometimes depicted with a crescent moon above her head. She was also identified with the Roman goddess Diana,[5] with the Etruscan goddess Artume, and with the Greek or Carian goddess Hecate.[6]

A hypothesis connects Artemis to the Proto-Indo-European root *h₂ŕ̥tḱos meaning "bear" due to her cultic practices in Brauronia and the Neolithic remains at the Arkouditessa. Though connection with Anatolian names has been suggested[7] as from a "common-gender term for bear in Hittite",[8] the earliest attested form of the name Artemis is the Mycenaean Greek a-ti-mi-te, written in Linear B syllabic script at Pylos.[9] Artemis was borrowed in Lydia as Artimus.[10][11]

In more traditional etymology within Ancient Greek, the name has been related to "ἀρτεμής" (artemes), "safe",[12] or "ἄρταμος" (artamos) "a butcher".[13][14]

Various conflicting accounts are given in Classical Greek mythology of the birth of Artemis and her twin brother, Apollo. All accounts agree, however, that she was the daughter of Zeus and Leto and that she was the twin sister of Apollo.



An account by Callimachus has it that Hera forbade Leto to give birth on either terra firma (the mainland) or on an island. Hera was angry with Zeus, her husband, because he had impregnated Leto. But the island of Delos (or Ortygia in the Homeric Hymn to Artemis) disobeyed Hera, and Leto gave birth there.[15]

A scholium of Servius on Aeneid iii. 72 accounts for the island's archaic name Ortygia [16] by asserting that Zeus transformed Leto into a quail (ortux) in order to prevent Hera from finding out his infidelity, and Kenneth McLeish suggested further that in quail form Leto would have given birth with as few birth-pains as a mother quail suffers when it lays an egg.[17]

The myths also differ as to whether Artemis was born first, or Apollo. Most stories depict Artemis as born first, becoming her mother's mid-wife upon the birth of her brother Apollo.

The childhood of Artemis is not embodied in any surviving myth: the Iliad reduced the figure of the dread goddess to that of a girl, who, having been thrashed by Hera, climbs weeping into the lap of Zeus.[18] A poem of Callimachus – the goddess "who amuses herself on mountains with archery" – imagines some charming vignettes: at three years old, Artemis asked her father, Zeus, while sitting on his knee, to grant her six wishes. Her first wish was to remain chaste for eternity, and never to be confined by marriage. She then asked for lop-eared hounds, stags to lead her chariot, and nymphs to be her hunting companions, 60 from the river and 20 from the ocean. Also, she asked for a silver bow like her brother Apollo. He granted her wishes.[19] All of her companions remained virgins and Artemis guarded her own chastity closely. Her symbol was the silver bow and arrow.
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